Ford Drivers Comment on Daytona 500

FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES DAYTONA 500 February 14, 1999 Daytona International Speedway JIMMY SPENCER -23- Team Winston Taurus -- "It's too bad. The car ran good. We were up in the top five there for ...

FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES DAYTONA 500 February 14, 1999 Daytona International Speedway

JIMMY SPENCER -23- Team Winston Taurus -- "It's too bad. The car ran good. We were up in the top five there for awhile and it got a little on the tight side so we adjusted on it and felt like we were in good shape, but, oh well, it's over."

WHAT HAPPENED? "I cut a tire down. I ran over something on the race track is what happened. The Team Winston guys worked hard all year to come to the Daytona 500 and it's one of them deals, you know. I don't know if I bumped Joe Nemechek, I don't really know what happened. I just know the tire started vibrating, I thought I could finish, you know being hard-headed, but it wouldn't it blew out and hit the wall pretty hard. I think we're done for the day. We had an opportunity for the No Bull 5 and now we've gotta wait until the next one, but, oh well, it's a bad start for 1999 but Team Winston will come back."

DID YOU FEEL THE TIRE GOING DOWN? "I knew the tire was going down. I felt it equalized or whatever and it was my fault because I knew the tire was going and I rode on it for two or three laps, so it was stupid on my part.

DALE JARRETT -88- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- "I don't know, I got tagged going into three. I pushed up coming out of two and they got a run on me. I was just trying to go into three and somebody hit me in the left rear. It all started from there."

WERE YOU ON THE RADIO WITH YOUR TEAMMATE AT THE TIME? "No, no. I was just worried about me."

DO YOU KNOW WHERE HE WAS AT THE TIME?  "He was in the mix there, but I
have no idea.  I knew he was back there, but I'm not sure exactly."

WERE YOU TRYING TO PASS SOMEBODY AT THE TIME? "No, a couple a cars had passed me coming off two and down the backstretch and I was the guy in the middle and I was just trying to hold there. I don't know if somebody got on the apron trying to do that and got into me, but I just got it in the left rear." "Everytime we get the cars bunched up, things like that can possibly happen."

IT'S A TOUGH BREAK FOR YOU BECAUSE IT LOOKED LIKE YOU HAD A GOOD CAR. "Yeah, we had a good race car. Something came off one of the cars out there and knocked a hole in the fender. It made me a little tighter than I wanted to be."

ELLIOTT SADLER -21- Citgo Taurus -- WHAT HAPPENED? "I don't know. I just looked up, and I think someone got sideways. I just tried to pick a hole, and there was a lotta smoke there. I tried to pick a hole and didn't get it, so I totalled the race car. It's good, tight racing but sometimes it gets out of hand. It's just one of them things. We didn't have anywhere to go. I didn't pick the right place to go. I'm just glad everyone's okay. Everybody who went in there seems to be okay. That's the main thing right now. It's just tough restrictor plate races. Good hard nosed racing for everybody. It's usually a lot of fun, but when it ends up like this I just wish we could have had a better day. We'll just have to move on to Rockingham."

JEFF BURTON -99- Exide Batteries Taurus -- "You were almost sitting there waiting. When's it coming? It's coming, it's coming, it's coming. You know it's coming."

WHAT WERE THE CONDITIONS OF THE TRACK AT THE TIME OF THE WRECK? "The wind blowing down the back straight-away made it a little hectic now and then, but other than that the track's in great shape. You just can't save it when you get in a corner like that. From there, it's just everybody trying to miss the wreck. There's not a enough room. There's not enough room for that many cars, that far up in front of the field to miss that wreck."

WERE YOU BEING EXTRA CAUTIOUS OUT THERE WITH EVERYTHING ELSE THAT HAS HAPPENED THIS WEEK? "I don't know. I think there is more experience in this field than there was in the other races. I think that was paying off. It was a little bitty tap. It wasn't a big hit, or anything. It wasn't intentional or anything, but it doesn't take much at these speeds."

MARK MARTIN -6- Valvoline Taurus -- "I expected that with restrictor plate racing, that's what you're always gonna have as long as you do this. Next week we'll go real racing."

WHAT ABOUT THE POINTS SITUATION? "We'll be better than we were last year. Last year we were 38th, so we're gonna gain five or 10 spots from that."

WHAT HAPPENED? "There was a big wreck."

WAS IT A CASE YOU DIDN'T HAVE ANY PLACE TO GO? "No, I really didn't. I didn't have an option one, not a single option. There were cars everywhere, the track was gonna be blocked. I slowed down, but kind of got run into from behind. There was no option. There was gonna be a wreck and I was gonna be in it, that's all there was to it."

DID YOU SEE WHAT STARTED IT? "No, I didn't see it. I don't care what happened. It was just another restrictor plate crash. We're lucky we didn't have more than that. You wonder why you have those things, and then you see them run three-wide on and on and on. It was bound to happen. I really hated seeing that caution come out when Kenny Wallace was stopped on the backstretch. We had a fast car, it was easy to run with the top five, there was only five of us -- it was easy. I had a great car. I had a top five car with the Valvoline car and we could have gone racing there at the end, but when you pack 'em all up, anybody who holds it wide open and gets a run can dive down and come up in front of you or whatever and start going three-wide. There's no way to control that. It's one of those temptations the everybody just takes."

CHAD LITTLE -97- John Deere Taurus -- "We came up a little bit short, but we had a great car. It handled really well all day long. I couldn't be happier. It was pretty exciting. It was very exciting. A lot of positions were moving. Our car was really good coming out of the turns. It probably hurt me a little bit there because I ended up bumping a couple of the guys as I was coming out of the turns. I'd lose momentum from bumping them, and then they'd end up passing me midway down the straight-away. All in all, it was a pretty good day."

IS THERE ANY WAY TO DESCRIBE THE INTENSITY OF THE LAST FEW LAPS? "Oh, it was no big deal. It was fun. It was a lot of fun. Seriously, you just try to keep a clear head and concentrate on what you're doing and who is behind you, and that's probably where I made my mistake is trying a little too hard. I should have just relaxed a little bit. We had a car that should have finished in the top five, but I got shuffled back to ninth. Nonetheless, we had a good day."

DOES IT FEEL GOOD TO CARRY THE ROUSH BANNER FOR ONE DAY? "Sure, there's nothing wrong with that, but you don't want to wish it on their (Mark Martin and Jeff Burton's) expense."

JERRY NADEAU -9- Cartoon Network Taurus -- "This is great for the team. These guys have been looking forward to this for a long time and it's a good way to start the year with the whole Melling team and Cartoon Network. I'm excited. It's just great to leave here in the top 15 and now we can really work hard next week. Next week is my kind of race track. This has been a long week for all of us, but it's good to get it over with on a high note."

ANY PROBLEMS TODAY? "We layed back a lot of times because we didn't have enough smoke to stay with a lot of people, but the car ran great, it handled great all day long. The motor ran great all day long. There were some fast cars out there and we just hung in there and stayed out of the wrecks. I saw a lot wrecks happening before it even happened and this is a good way to start the year off."

HOW MUCH EXPERIENCE HAVE YOU GAINED FROM LAST YEAR? "I'm a little bit more patient. Last year I would just get into anything. We still got into the wall a little bit down the back straight because the car was really tight, but, other than that, I'm just more relaxed this year and I think that's good for all of us."

RUSTY WALLACE -2- Miller Lite Taurus -- "We had a good day, a real good day. Gordon just got me on the apron down there. I just couldn't block him off enough. I thought I had him blocked off, and he just kept going. I thought he was just gonna drive right in the back of Rudd on the apron there. I had him pinned down there and I said, 'Man, I'm not gonna try to wreck a bunch of cars,' so I pulled up and he got me. I just didn't think I'd get freight-trained that bad but I did."

THAT SAYS A LOT ABOUT YOUR RESTRICTOR PLATE PROGRAM. "Our cars are pretty good right now. They're a lot, lot better than they've ever been, so we're in good shape now."

HOW ABOUT THE DECISION TO STAY OUT? "Well, we thought the decision was OK. I still think the decision was fine. Looking back on it right now, maybe if I would have had a little bit more grip in the tires I might have been able to hold that bottom line a little bit better, but the car still handled good. I wasn't having a problem."

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAD THE BEST CAR? "I felt like I had the best car today. I did. I'm just so heartbroken that this happened, I can't believe it."

WHAT WERE YOU THINKING ABOUT WHEN HE MADE HIS MOVE? "I knew if you're gonna make a move it's gonna be on the bottom of the race track. I knew it was gonna be on the bottom of the race track, I just didn't know he was gonna be able to get me. I didn't think anybody could get me to tell you the truth, the car was so strong all day long."

YOU AND JEREMY STAYED TOGETHER A LOT. "Yeah, he just got shook and he couldn't help me anymore."

IS THIS THE MOST DISAPPOINTING THING FOR YOU SINCE YOU'VE BEEN COMING HERE? "Yeah, probably so because I just had a great car. I can't believe this happened." "He got underneath me and when he got underneath me there was nothing I could do to block him back off and that was it. There was nothing I could do. I saw him going on the apron heading toward the grass and I said, 'You know, I'm gonna stay right here, but sooner of later I need to get back up on the race track,' and I went back on the race track and he just bounced up off the apron onto the track in front of me. That's what happened. It feels horrible to lose the Daytona 500 like that after I thought I had the best car and had a chance to win the thing. But, it didn't happen so we'll just keep trying to make it better and better now."

ARE YOU ENTHUSED ABOUT THE REST OF THE SEASON? "Absolutely, I feel good. I know we've got a strong car, we had a good run, but there's nothing we can do about it now."

DID THE TIRES HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT? "I don't think the tires had anything to do with it. People keep talking about that, but I thought it was the right move what we did. I back my crew chief and all the guys for that call. The only thing that lost me the race was he got a fender underneath me, I went down to block him off...we were gonna wreck like crazy going into one if one of us didn't give and I had to get back up on the race track and get off the apron."

ROGER PENSKE, Car Owner -2- Miller Lite Taurus and Co-Owner -12- Mobil 1 Taurus -- "At the end of the day we can look at it and say it was good that we didn't get in a wreck and both cars came home. Now we can get onto Rockingham. We feel pretty good, but not as good as we could."

WHAT WAS THE PLAN WITH RUSTY AND JEREMY? "Well, the plan there was for those two guys to line up and try to run and stay out of trouble. Of course, Jeremy had the tire go down and we lost our opportunity to have someone pushing us, but at the end of the day it was great."


KENNY IRWIN -28- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- TAKE US THROUGH THE LAST LAP. "Earnhardt was doing everything he could to get by Jeff (Gordon). If he had had the lane I would have probably went with him, not because of any reason, but I felt like if he went I could probably end up second and progressively move up. That's what I did for about the last ten laps, just try to make the right moves just to keep inching up for the end of the race. I want to start out with something. About Dale Jarrett because that's what everybody's going to ask about. He was three-wide in the center going down the back straight-away. Getting just into three I tried to get off, and let him get down. I don't know if we actually touched or if the air just got off his spoiler and he spun. I have no idea, but I feel very, very bad about it, if it was my fault."

DID THAT MAKE THE REST OF THE DAY MORE EXCITING? YOU ALMOST HAD TO WIN THE RACE TO RECOVER. "It was an exciting day. It was an awesome for me. Daytona, the 500, finished third. That's awesome for myself, Texaco, Robert Yates."

WHAT ABOUT THE LAST FOUR OR FIVE LAPS. IT APPEARED YOU COULDN'T QUITE GET TO EARNHARDT TO PUSH HIM. "And that's what he was wanting to do. He was making hand signals in the car. My car just would not suck up good like you could see some other cars. I kept trying to get a run off of four or off of two to get that, but every time I did it actually slowed our car down. The best run I could have got would have been if Skinner would have pushed me, and then I could have got have pushed him."

WITH THE HISTORY OF THE TEXACO TEAM AT DAYTONA, WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO SCORE A TOP THREE FINISH HERE? "Obviously, Davey Allison and Robert Yates created a great thing 10 or 11 years ago when Texaco and they all got together. To get the 28 car back up front, and to all the fans that supported me when I got in the 28, it's nice to kind of give that back to them."

YOU ALMOST DIDN'T MAKE THE RACE, AND THEN TO TURN AROUND AND FINISH THIRD. "Our 125, we felt like we had a very good race car in our 125, and we finished 16th. We come back, and we said what do we need to do. We made very minor changes, really, to the car. But, like you said, we had to get in on a provisional from last year."

WHAT WAS THE KEY MOVE THAT GOT YOU UP THROUGH THE PACK? "Actually, I don't know how many laps to go it was, but Ernie Irvan tried to go low, and I blocked him, and he actually drop-kicked me past a couple cars, and that was probably the biggest key to finishing third today because it broke the draft for me to get by Skinner and another car."

DID YOU WORK WITH ANYONE SPECIFIC IN THE DRAFT THROUGHOUT THE DAY? "No. You know people talk before the race, and I talked to Doug Richert, and said what do you think? And he says, I'm telling you there's no friends out there."

MOMENTUM - LAST YEAR YOU ENDED WITH A POLE AT ATLANTA, AND YOU START OUT 1999 FINISHING THIRD AT DAYTONA. WHAT DOES THAT DO FOR YOUR CONFIDENCE? "I think that does a lot for our team. Our team has gone through a lot over the winter, and it's going to help make everybody and myself more confident going into the whole year. One thing that we already think about is the next track at Talladega, the super speedway. We know we have a good car, and that just builds confidence."

WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN YOU SAW THE 88 CAR SPIN? "I have answered it. I feel very bad about it. I don't know. If I could have made it not happen, I would have made it not happen."

WHAT ABOUT THE FACT YOU WILL BE RUNNING FOR A MILLION AT THE NEXT NO BULL RACE? "Yeah, yeah. The more money, the more excited everybody gets. Is that at Talladega? Oh, Vegas. Sounds good. The sooner, the better."

DID YOU HAVE ANY OTHER THAN WITH JARRETT WHEN YOU THOUGHT THE DAY WAS GOING TO END? "Once early with Chad Little off of four, and then the circumstance I just told you about with Ernie. Honestly, I thought when he hit us we were going to spin out."

DID YOU TOUCH JARRETT? "I honestly don't know. I didn't feel anything. I don't know."

HOW BIG AN IMPACT HAS DOUG RICHERT HAD ON THE RACE TEAM? "I think very big. He's just very positive. He's just very upbeat. He doesn't let things get him down. He's always just striving to make the cars better, and make his team better."

THE ONLY FORD IN THE TOP THREE OR FOUR. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE COMPARISON BETWEEN THE FORD AND CHEVROLET? "They ought take them to the wind tunnel right now, and see how much of an advantage the Chevrolets have."

DARRELL WALTRIP -66- Big Kmart/Route 66 Taurus -- "I had more fun today than I've had here in the last 10 years. We weren't the sharpest knife in drawer, but they knew were were here. For the first time out, we needed a run like this to serve as a confidence booster. This team reminds me a lot of the #1 team. I think we've really got something to look forward to."

BRETT BODINE -11- Paychex Taurus -- NOTE: BODINE WAS SUFFERING FROM STREPPED THROAT ALL WEEK. THIS RACE IS TOUGH ENOUGH WHEN YOU'RE HEALTHY RIGHT? "We haven't felt good all week, but we just kind of hung around all day. We tried to do better, but we got a lap down and that was it. We just got in that group that just happened to get lapped when Kenny Wallace pulled off the race track over on the back. That really hurt us and took us out of contention. Then it was just a matter of trying to finish the thing and get as far forward as possible. We're two spots ahead of where we were in points coming into this race, we're 23rd, so we did all we could do. We'll get ready to go to Rockingham, go test Las Vegas and try to start the next couple races a little stronger."

JOHNNY BENSON -26- Cheerios Taurus -- "Seventeenth, we'll take it because we were probably a 38th place car. Man, we just don't know what we're missing. It feels like it's got a lot of drag. The bad part about is that in the windtunnel it showed really good, so we're just missing something. The car was OK, but I needed somebody behind me. If there was nobody behind me I could lose the draft, even if they're double-wide. All in all, there's not much more I can say. The spotter did an awesome job getting us through all the wrecks. One of them we should have been in but weren't, so it was just a matter of getting to the end of the day."

JEREMY MAYFIELD -12- Mobil 1 Taurus -- "We had a great car and a great run. I guess there were a lot of guys today who will sit in the garage and tell you that, but I believe we showed everybody. You have to be in the right place at the right time. We were in the right place, just not at the right time."

WHAT ABOUT STAYING OUT ON THE CAUTION? "Track position is everything in these restrictor plate races. The tires hadn't shown any wear or problems, ours or Rusty's or anybody else's we knew about. New or old tires, that thing was cut regardless. We were a lot more worried about fuel than tires."

IF YOU HAD IT TO DO OVER AGAIN, WHAT WOULD YOU DO? "I'd trust whatever Paul Andrews decided, without question." WAS THE CAR GOOD? "This was the best car I've ever had at Daytona. I felt like we were as good as anybody out there. Of course, those Chevrolets looked like they hit the afterburners those last five laps. So who knows." NOTE: MAYFIELD CUT A RIGHT-FRONT TIRE ON LAP 192 WHILE RUNNING SEVENTH.

BILL ELLIOTT -94- McDonald's Taurus -- CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR STRATEGY OF TWO TIRES? "We had a pretty good car, but it started running bad there the last bit. I knew it started to get flat and it just broke. I don't know what broke in it, but it just quit. I felt it bind up off turn four and by the time I got to the start-finish line it just quit running. We had a good car. Whenever we came out and were leading the race and kind of hanging in there I said, 'Man, this is gonna be a pretty good day.' Some of the tape blew off the front and it slowed the car down at that particular time, but we were working on getting it all back. But, I think by that time, right there at the end, the motor laid down a little bit."

KEVIN LEPAGE -16- PRIMESTAR Taurus -- "We ran all day long, we were just a little bit tight. We were aero tight I guess, and James and all the guys did a great job and just kept working on it and working on it. We just could never get it to run exactly the way we wanted it, but, hey, the first race of the year this PRIMESTAR Taurus to finish in 13th place is something we can build on. Jack told me this morning, he said, 'This is the last race of a championship and you're leading by only two points, so make sure you get all the points you can get.' And that's what we did. We just worked all day long. I made some driver errors out there. I picked the wrong line a time or two, but that's just experience and now I'm just looking forward to Rockingham."

YOU HATE TO SEE TEAMMATES HAVE PROBLEMS LIKE MARK AND JEFF, BUT DOES IT FEEL GOOD TO BE ONE OF THE TOP ROUSH FINISHERS? "I've always considered all the teams being at Mark Martin's caliber. I hated to see Mark and Jeff have problems, but I'm glad for Roush Racing that if somebody has a problem that somebody else is gonna step up to the table. Today, Chad in the top 10 and me in the top 15 just proves what kind of organization we have here. I hate it for those two guys, but there were two other guys waiting in line to get up there and we were there."

ROBERT PRESSLEY -77- Jasper Engines Taurus -- "We're real disappointed. This Jasper Engine Ford was good since last Sunday. This crew has worked it's tail off, we had great pit stops, but on that last caution I don't know if we stripped a drive blade or what happened, but we were done. It was sick watching those last 20 laps knowing we had a car that could have been in the top 10 easy. The 28 finished third and we were ahead of him, so we're disappointed."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Ernie Irvan , Dale Jarrett , Joe Nemechek , Kenny Wallace , Chad Little , Robert Yates , Doug Richert , Mark Martin , Davey Allison